Q.Why do I need a laser?
A. For Assisted Hatching, Blastomere, Polar Body and Trophectoderm Biopsies – and other procedures, it is necessary to make a hole in the zona pellucida. Using a laser to do this is more precise, safer and quicker1,2 than other methods. You may save a great deal in disposables such as Acid Tyrodes and pipettes, and the laser’s use will potentially reduce the amount of time lab staff spend preparing for and performing procedures2. One other very important factor is that lasers have the potential to standardize laboratory procedures by reducing operator variability, which can be a big problem when, for example, using Acid Tyrodes for Assisted Hatching.
1Research Instruments Ltd, Falmouth, UK, (2012). A comparison of different power levels used by laser systems in the IVF laboratory.
2Lloyd S, Doshi A, Harper J, (2013). A new method of biopsying trophectoderm (TE) cells using the latest Saturn 5™ Laser System, offers several potential ways to improve procedures.
Q.What are the advantages of using the Saturn 5 laser?
A. The Saturn 5 Active laser can be directed to the target location, eliminating the need to move the embryo, which can be difficult and time-consuming. It has a visible pilot laser to ensure the laser is aligned to the objective (so that “flaring” of the laser beam does not occur) and to check the position of the laser when required. It has a high power and ultra-short pulse time combination to make the most energy-efficient holes with minimal heat transfer. Saturn 5 laser systems use shorter pulse times than any competitor system. They also come with a sophisticated software package – RI Viewer™ – to record images and data for both lab and patient use.
Q.Why do I need a pilot laser?
A. The pilot laser ensures the laser is not going to flare or spread heat where it is not required. Microscopes also have a number of moving parts which could affect the position of the laser such as the nosepiece, camera and port selector. The only way to be certain of the laser’s position is to check it before firing. Using a pilot laser that travels down the same fibre-optic as the main laser guarantees the position and reduces the need for additional service visits. RI lasers are calibrated to within 1µm accuracy.
Q.What is the difference between the Saturn pilot laser and other red spot targeting systems?
A. Misalignment between the pilot laser and the infrared laser is not possible using a Saturn laser as the two travel down the same fibre-optic cable. Other systems have to be separately aligned. Shape and focus quality of the Saturn laser can be checked. This is not possible with other systems.
Q. Other lasers can adjust the power as well as the pulse length. Isn’t this an advantage?
A. Research shows that the most efficient way to deliver laser energy is to use pulse length to control the hole size1. Doing this ensures the lowest amount of heat reaches the embryo, thereby lowering possible risk of thermal damage. Other laser systems do not allow the user to vary the power in clinical use, only in a non-clinical evaluation mode.
Q. Isn’t a higher powered laser dangerous for the user?
A. Our lasers are Class 1 (the safest level), as defined by IEC 60825 international laser safety standards, so no special safety precautions are required. We also fit an infrared filter to prevent any laser energy reaching the operator as an extra safety measure.
Q. How do I know the laser beam is not damaging the embryo?
A. We have worked with embryologists to assess the damage to embryos at different pulse lengths and at varying distances from critical cells. Based on the results of the study3 we developed a visual “Exclusion Zone™” around the laser target which is a measuring tool that informs the user where the heat is applied, relative to critical cells. This is more clinically relevant than providing a temperature, as the latter is entirely theoretical, leaving the embryologist with a problem in deciding what temperature is safe.
3Chatzimeletiou K, Morrison E E, Panagiotidis Y, Prapas N, Prapas Y, Rutherford A J, Grudzinskas G, Handyside A H, (2005). Comparison of effects of zona drilling by non-contact infrared laser or acid Tyrodes on the development of human biopsied embryos as revealed by blastomere viability, cytoskeletal analysis and molecular cytogenetics, Reproductive BioMedicine Online, Vol 11. No 6. 2005 697–710.
Q. I have been told that an off-axis laser cannot focus properly. Is this true?
A. This only applies to a simple lens. The Saturn 5 Active objective is a complex compound lens which is corrected for astigmatism, so the laser is focused correctly everywhere in its range of movement. This is easily demonstrated by looking at the pilot laser diffraction rings as the beam is moved. Any focus error would be obvious as the ring pattern would visibly change. Furthermore, it has always been a routine requirement that all parts of the field of view are in sharp focus. The same is true for the laser.
Q. Is the alignment of the laser difficult?
A. No. Initial alignment is carried out once at installation. The laser position should be checked before each procedure, and this takes two seconds. A full calibration can be done from time-to-time to ensure optimal alignment and this takes 30 seconds. This is a very simple procedure and worthwhile, to minimize damaging the embryo.
Q. Can I transfer the laser to another microscope?
A. Yes, if it is the same model of microscope. If it is a different model then most parts can be transferred, but a different mirror module will be required. Use the fibre cleaning kit 6-46-590 for installation.
Q. Can I upgrade my Saturn 3 to a Saturn 5?
A. Yes, the Saturn 3 and Saturn 3 Active can be upgraded to Saturn 5 or Saturn 5 Active with the purchase of parts.
Q.For how long will Saturn 3 and Saturn 3 Active parts be manufactured?
A. We will offer service support for Saturn 3 lasers while-ever parts are in stock. However, we cannot guarantee parts availability from November 2019 onwards.
Q.How long is the warranty and expected life-span of the laser?
A. Our warranty is one year from despatch of goods. The system is designed to work reliably for many years.
Q.Do you provide technical support in terms of service and repairs?
A. It is very important that your equipment is working properly. If a part needs replacing, under usual circumstances, we can send replacements in one or two working days. Our service team and distributors can repair equipment and carry out routine servicing annually, or as required.